Mass evacuation of residents in Thessaloniki while WWII bomb is defused

Reuters /ANA-MPA — Around 75,000 people in the Greek city of Thessaloniki will be evacuated after a 500-pound unexploded World War II bomb was discovered under a gas station.

The gas station discovered the bomb while working on an expansion of fuel storage tanks. It dropped during an air raid against rail facilities during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Greece.

Bomb disposal experts will attempt to defuse the device during a six-hour operation Sunday. All residents within a 1.2 mile radius will be evacuated during the procedure.

The operation is expected to be completed by 10 o’clock Sunday when people can begin to return to their homes. .

“It is the first time something like this is happening in Greece,” Thessaloniki’s Deputy Governor Voula Patoulidou told The Associated Press. “The transfer of all residents is mandatory and we will go door-to-door to make sure everyone leaves.”

The weapon is “ordinary” and fairly familiar to the group preparing to defuse it, officials say. The defusal unit has already “deactivated dozens of similar bombs found at Thessaloniki’s Macedonia international airport, along the [Trans Adriatic Pipeline] route and other areas,” according to the Athens-Macedonia News Agency.